Pitru Paksha and its Significance

Pitru Paksha and its Significance

What is Pitru Paksha?

Also known as Kanagat or Kadve Din, Pitru Paksha is a 16-day ritual observed in Hinduism to pay respect to the souls of those who have departed for their heavenly abode.

Pitru Paksha is a mourning period that is marked by many pujas, rituals, and daan (charity) activities. It's said that paying homage to the departed soul during Pitru Paksha helps them attain liberation or moksha. The last day of Pitru Paksha is known as Sarvapitri Amavasya or Mahalay Amavasya and is considered the most significant day of Pitru Paksha.

Significance of Pitru Paksha

In Hinduism, it is important that once a person dies, their loved ones make sure that their body and soul leave the mortal world in a dignified manner. While a funeral only puts the body at rest for good, it is imperative for the soul to attain moksha or peace as well. For this, it is important to conduct Shradh.

This ritual is usually conducted by either the deceased's oldest son or any male relative. In some cases, women too can conduct Shradh. 

Hindu tradition holds that the karmas of the previous life are carried forward into this life. Therefore we must complete the karmas we owe to our ancestors to ensure their comfort and assistance in achieving their heavenly goals.

The significance of Shradh is briefly mentioned in holy scriptures such as the Agni Puran, Vayu Puran, Garuda Puran, and a few other sacred texts: Shradh is an ancient tradition performed in Hinduism and many other faiths. It is a longstanding tradition that is carried out in memory of the departed souls. It is believed that when Shradh is performed correctly, the soul of the deceased comes down to bless their loved ones.

Practices during Pitru Paksha

This period of mourning and remembering our ancestors is considered inauspicious for any weddings or buying a new property, jewelry, etc. Instead, the period is marked by many puja rituals, daan and cooking of certain foods liked by the deceased.

According to scriptures and religious texts, Hindus are expected to avoid the following things during Pitru Paksha:

  • ● It is recommended to consume vegetarian food during Pitru Paksha. 
  • ● A household member who performs Shradh rituals in Pitru Paksha should not cut his hair or nails during the 16-day lunar period. 
  • ● It is recommended that shradh be performed before sunset. 
  • ● During Pitru Paksha, you must feed any animal or bird that comes to your door. It is believed that ancestors come to meet you in the form of animals and birds. If possible, you should feed cows and crows during this period.
  • ● It is considered auspicious to eat on the leaf in Pitru Paksha and feed Brahmins on the leaf during this period.
  • ● Any auspicious work like marriage or engagement should not be done during Pitru Paksha at all. You should also avoid buying any new things during this period.